Ghostfire Games talks Rage of the Gladiator

Anyone that's spent any time in the comments sections of our various Rage of the Gladiator news items will know Ed Roman, CEO of Ghostfire Games. Ed is always kind enough to answer questions and concerns from our readers and even implemented some new features into the game based on feedback from Nintendo Life readers.

We recently caught up with Ed and he was kind enough to take the time to answer a few of our questions. You can find out what he had to say in the exclusive Nintendo Life interview below. And, as an added bonus, you can also download a brand new MP3 clip from the game's soundtrack at the conclusion of the interview.

Nintendo Life: How did you come up with the idea for the game to begin with?

Ed Roman: Rage of the Gladiator is a first-person perspective arena combat game where you are fighting for your life against fantasy creatures, with only a magical warhammer and shield to aid you. The first-person perspective was inspired by a lesser-known NEO-GEO game called Crossed Swords. But there were many games that served as inspiration for our game. Specifically:

Not a nice-looking fellow
  • The combat system was inspired by some of the best ideas from games such as 1980s Punch Out
  • The theme was inspired by games such as God of War
  • The cutscenes (such as conjuring a meteor, tornado, or lightning storm) were inspired by games such as Final Fantasy
  • The tech-tree was inspired by games such as Diablo or World of Warcraft
  • The music was inspired from movies such as 300

Nintendo Life: How long has Rage of the Gladiator been in development?

Ed Roman: We’re getting close to finishing the game. Originally the game was supposed to be a 6-month project, but we’ve increased the scale and scope of the game quite a bit since the original design so that we can provide the best experience possible. We’re on our 13th month of development now, but we think it's time well-spent.

Nintendo Life: What controllers and control methods will be supported in the game?

Ed Roman: We have 3 different modes:

Traditional Horizontal Wii Remote: You hold the Wii Remote sideways, NES-style. This is great for old-school gamers that love quick responsiveness of buttons.

Eye contact

Wii Remote + Nunchuk: You hold the Wii Remote in your right hand, and Nunchuk in your left hand. You swing the Nunchuk or Wii Remote to perform attacks. By holding down a button, you can aim low when you swing.

Wii Remote + Nunchuk with Wii MotionPlus: The motion controls are enhanced here. You can swing up, down, left, and right when you swing by aiming the controller in that direction. We feel this is the most enjoyable experience and its pretty good exercise, too!

Nintendo Life: How many fighters are available in the game in total and does the game feature any type of replay value to keep players coming back to the game?

Ed Roman: There are 10 bosses plus 1 final boss in the game. All the fights are “boss fights” since we find that to be the most interesting aspect of video games (who needs fodder?). Once you beat the game you get to fight all of the bosses over again in Challenge Mode, where they get new powers and feel like completely different fights, and you get to also face the final boss who is reserved only for Challenge Mode.

Hot stuff!

Each time you defeat a boss, you gain skill points to customize your character in the three skill trees. That’s how you acquire new powers, such as conjuring a raging tornado or summoning a fiery meteor. One cool way to replay the game is to build your character in a different way to try out new spells and take a different path. For more on this, see this link.

Nintendo Life: With a game that has the visual flair and a musical score like this one, was it tough to stay within the 40MB file size limitation?

Ed Roman: In the past we developed cell phone games, and I remember building a game that had to fit into 64KB (not MB) so that the game worked on all phones. This was only 3 years ago, too! Compared to that, 40MB is huge!

The tough thing is to make tradeoffs about what content to include. You need to always be thinking about the game size throughout the development process, and be smart about optimizing and compressing things. So you need careful planning. But if you’re smart about it, and optimize well, you can fit quite a bit into 40MB. Using these techniques, we were able to include many hundreds of hand-crafted custom animations, great-looking 3d graphics, full voice acting, 4 epic soundtracks, and a whole lot more.

Short but not so sweet!

Nintendo Life: Any chance we might see add-on content made available for the game, such as additional bosses to fight?

Ed Roman: No, we won’t be doing downloadable content. Instead we’re cramming everything into a single download. We think our customers will appreciate that rather than have to pay over and over again.

Nintendo Life: How difficult was it to implement things like the Wii MotionPlus support and dynamic lighting effects so far along in development?

Ed Roman: It wasn’t as hard as we thought originally, mostly because Nintendo gives developers great tools to work with. But those features are just two of many small improvements we’ve made to the game over time, such as voice acting, a skill tree, and a 2nd play-through of the game in Challenge Mode. Those features (in total) have definitely pushed back the project.

Tame this!

Nintendo Life: How has the developmental process been with Rage of the Gladiator in comparison to the process on your first WiiWare title Helix? Did you find it easier this time around?

Ed Roman: We really benefited a lot from the experience of making Helix, and learned many tips and tricks about how to cram a ton of content into a 40MB download. We also went through some good employees, and some not as good. Our staff quality improved as a result of Helix.

This game is much more ambitious than Helix. The sheer challenge of making a game of this scope for WiiWare was daunting, and that made this project much more challenging than Helix. We really wanted to push the limits for what you expect in a WiiWare game, since its tough to stand out otherwise, especially when you’re an unknown developer and don’t have an existing known brand for your game.

Slice & Dice

Nintendo Life: How did you come to work with Sean Beeson and what has he brought to the table with his musical scoring of the game?

Ed Roman: We noticed Sean’s excellent work on other downloadable games. He’s just an absolutely fantastic composer. We thought he was really talented and reached out to him. Luckily for us, he was amenable to making music for our game.

Nintendo Life: Any idea when we might expect a release of Rage of the Gladiator and have you finalized a price point yet?

Ed Roman: We don't have a release date yet. It’s hard to give an exact timetable due to the process for approving a game by Nintendo. Our goal is to release the game this year. However, we won’t release it until it is completely polished. We are very proud of this project and want to make sure we are providing the best gaming experience possible. Basically we’re learning from Blizzard’s model --- be patient, don’t give in to the temptation of releasing too early, and focus on high quality.

Heat shield

Nintendo Life: Has there been any WiiWare titles that have really impressed you?

Ed Roman: World of Goo impressed us the most. They took their time to make sure the game was solid before releasing it and that’s commendable.

Nintendo Life: Any desire to try your hand at DSiWare in the future?

Ed Roman: Most likely we will not be doing DSiWare. Our company is laser-focused. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, we like to do one thing and do it well.

Nintendo Life: Is there anything you'd like to tell our readers in closing?

Ed Roman: Thanks in part to the NintendoLife community, we added Wii MotionPlus and Dynamic Lighting support. You guys gave us those ideas and pushed for them! You guys are awesome – and the game is stronger as a result.


Nintendo Life: We thank you once again for taking time to answer our questions and we look forward to playing the game.

Click Here to Download the Brand New Rage of the Gladiator MP3